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Griffin's Modest Proposal

  • Michele M. Moody-Adams (a1)
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1 Kant Immanuel, Critique of Practical Reason, rev. edn. trans. Beck L. W., New York 1993, p. 8n.

2 Much recent discussion of Bentham's view has challenged his claims (and, later, Mill's claims) to this kind of philosophical modesty. Michael Slote contends that when utilitarianism was ‘first discussed in the eighteenth century’, utilitarianism was ‘an original moral idea’. See Slote Michael, ‘Is Virtue Possible?’, Analysis, xlii (1982). Similarly, Michael Walzer has argued that utilitarianism is a product of ‘philosophical invention’. (Walzer suggests, at one point, that Bentham took himself to have ‘discovered’ the principle of utility anew – rather than to have ‘invented’ it. Walzer never indicates why he retreats from this claim. It is clear, however, that this claim is incompatible with Bentham's famous insistence that he was so moved by reading Hume's discussions of utility that the ‘scales fell’ from his eyes.) Walzer's discussion of Bentham appears in Walzer , Interpretation and Social Criticism, Cambridge, Ma, 1987, p. 27.

3 I have in mind a variety of thinkers including (but not limited to) Annette Baier, Cheryl Noble, Michael Oakeshott, and Richard Rorty, Michael Walzer, and Bernard Williams.

4 Noble Cheryl, ‘Normative Ethical Theories’, in Anti-Theory in Ethics and Moral Conservatism, ed. Clarke S. C. and Simpson E., Albany, NY, 1989, p. 53.

5 Oakeshott Michael, ‘The Tower of Babel’, in Oakeshott , Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays, expanded edn., Indianapolis, 1991.

6 See the introduction to Griffin James, Well-Being: Its Meaning, Measurement and Moral Importance, Oxford, 1986, pp. 2 f.

7 Moody-Adams Michele M., Fieldwork in Familiar Places: Morality, Culture, and Philosophy, Cambridge, Ma, 1997.

8 Broad C. D., Five Types of Ethical Theory, London, 1930, p. 1.

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Utilitas
  • ISSN: 0953-8208
  • EISSN: 1741-6183
  • URL: /core/journals/utilitas
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